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May 9, 1891


JAMA. 1891;XVI(19):674. doi:10.1001/jama.1891.02410710026007

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Hippocrates proclaimed that "accurate observation of facts, and correct generalization from them, forms the only rational basis of medicine," and so we are taught to-day. To discover truth in science, the most learned will admit, is very often difficult, but in no science is it more difficult than in medicine. Independent of the common defects of medical evidence, our self-interest, our self-esteem, our prejudices, our likes and dislikes, and not infrequently our ignorance, only too often hide the truth from our view, and we ascribe too much to art, and too little to the operations of nature. Thus the mass of testimony is most with art, and, although we believe we are right in our reasoning, we only pursue the old, time-honored course that has been instilled into our minds through training and education. The best and safest practitioner is he who knows when to abstain from acting as well

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